In Review: Lobster Johnson: The Pirate’s Ghost #2

Schemes and the supernatural are coming together with only the Lobster to bring justice to both.

The cover: Like the previous cover, this resembles an aged book, with the there being some cool leather wrinkling obvious in the red colored text and objects. A meat cleaver is under the character’s name, with the subtitle and three credits under that. On the left is Arnie Wald, his wife Gina, followed by  “The Ghost”, and then El Bogavante. On the right is the Lobster, Peter Awam, Horace, Dr. Heider, and Isog. This a gallery of all the major players surrounding a tool to cut meat. How this object fits into this series is unforgettable. Great cover from Tonci Zonjic. Overall grade: A

The story: Outside the movie theater from last issue, Peter Awam passes a newspaper boy who says to him, “Hey, mister. Your finger’s glowing!” Awam says to himself that he thought he washed all that stuff off. Seeing the headline on the boy’s paper he gasps: “Radio Engineer Killed Newslady Missing”. He buys a paper and rushes into the theater. That morning, Dr. Heider is showing catatonic Gina Wald to Dr. Chisolm, who is really Lobster operative Robert. This protagonist examines the woman who stares blankly out the window at the sun. He snaps his fingers in front of her several times to no reaction. Robert asks, “And she’s been this way the whole seven years of her stay?” Heider responds, “Actually, no. When she was first brought in, she was possessed of profound mania. Screaming incoherently. Permanently damaged her vocal cords. We didn’t think the shrieking would ever stop.” Mike Mignola and John Arcudi’s story then goes into flashback mode to show the reader what caused Mrs. Wald to slip away from reality. It’s a hard scene, with much of the action left to the reader’s imagination, but it’s hard to imagine anyone who wouldn’t react much as Mrs. Wald does. It is a horrific moment. The Lobster receives the news of this woman’s state, but his concern is for Cindy Tynan who was kidnapped last issue by Wald. The story then moves to Wald’s location and he’s doing something very surprising, while listening to someone who is even more surprising. Isog’s reaction to Wald is great, showing that both of them are on the edge, with Cindy’s response at the end of Page 9 a terrific showcase for her character. Wald is getting some terrific moments in this issue, making him one to watch in his every appearance. Mr. Awam reappears and adds much to the Lobster’s knowledge about what Wald is up to, but the title character doesn’t know how far Isog is going to go to see him killed. The book ends on a solid, classic cliffhanger with Cindy in danger, but Ms. Wald also makes a surprising contribution to the finale. The tension is ramped up on this penultimate chapter that will have the Lobster and his allies racing against time to save Ms. Tynan. Overall grade: A

The art: Tonci Zonjic is the perfect artist to illustrate the adventures of the Lobster. He is able to capture the time period handsomely, with the characters that people the book looking fantastic. Look at the opening page that introduces Awam: he looks great and the theater impressive. The first panel on the second page also looks well; it’s a big change in location, but looks of the time. Dr. Heider is a classic doctor for Mrs. Wald, with the patient’s look identifying her as a lost soul. Zonjic also is doing the coloring, so notice should be taken of how Mrs. Wald is colored — pale white. She’s like a ghost on the page, haunting every panel she’s in. The close up into her eye at the bottom of 3 is a great transition to the flashback that occurs on 4 and 5. The use of burnt red for the borders of the panels is outstanding. The return to Mrs. Wald on 6 creates a tremendous amount of sympathy for her and her state. The Lobster looks great on every page he appears, with his orange goggles glowing orange, giving him a supernatural fire. The character that speaks privately to Arnie Wald looks great, with his coloring helping the reader instantly make the leap as to who this character is. Isog gets to emote wonderfully in this issue, starting with shock, moving to fury, and ending in absolute disgust on 9. I’ve loved Cindy Tynan in all of her previous appearances, but she truly has my heart with the final panel on 9 and the text that accompanies the illustration. The police investigating the pirate ship look great, with the younger one looking super. Both action sequences in the theater also look good, with Harry stealing scenes. Awam’s tale provides Zonjic several opportunities to create some exceptional settings and some great action, and they all look terrific. This book looks great. Overall grade: A

The letters: Clem Robins creates yells, dialogue, sounds, some whispers, and one character’s unique wails. There’s a good variety of yells in this issue, with Wald demanding something of his wife, Isog losing it, and comments at a movie theater. I’m glad to see so many different fonts, which lets the reader hear the difference in each person’s screams. I also like one character’s unique wails which match his character perfectly. Overall grade: A

The final line: This middle installment moves the mystery forward as two characters’ mental state comes to the forefront. Schemes and the supernatural are coming together with only the Lobster to bring justice to both. Terrific pulp reading. Overall grade: A

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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